Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: No stimulus checks, gas prices rising

June 16, 2009

Check out a lack of government stimulus checks and rising gas prices weighing on consumers –and the retailers that are trying to sell them stuff.

bbyBest Buy reported lower earnings for its fiscal first-quarter (which ended May 30), and said sales at its stores open at least 14 months declined the most during May. A year ago it got a boost in that month when shoppers came into its stores to spend those government stimulus checks.

The consumer electronics retailer said fewer customers visited its U.S. stores during the quarter. Sales of gaming items, digital cameras, appliances and movies fell, while notebook computers, mobile phones and repair services sold well.

Meanwhile the The ICSC-Goldman Sachs chain store sales index for the week ending June 13 declined by 0.6 percent from the prior week and fell by 1.5 percent from the prior year — the weakest
year-over-year performance in seven weeks.

The ICSC said overall customer traffic was off for the week relative to the prior period, and higher gasoline prices ate into the consumers’ ability to spend on discretionary merchandise. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline rose by 4.8 cents over the latest week–its seventh consecutive weekly rise for a cumulative increase of 62 cents per gallon.

The ICSC said that for June, it now expects sales (minus Wal-Mart, which no longer reports monthly same store sales) to be down by about 5 percent from its year-ago level.

Earlier this month, it said it expected June same-store sales would fall 3 percent to 4 percent. 

Also in the basket:

Smithfield Foods loss less than expected

Tod’s sees low single-digit sales growth in 2009

Procter & Gamble buys men’s skincare brand Zirh

(Photo: Reuters)

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